Toward user-centered assistive technologies for aging in place with cognitive impairment: a survey

Christine M. Petersen, Patricia R. DeLucia, Frederick L. Oswald, Philip Kortum, Stephanie L. Leal, Sabrina Pickens, Barbara E. Hekel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: To reduce the burden of Alzheimer’s disease, the use of assistive technologies for patients and their informal caregivers is considered essential. However, these technologies are made as “one size fits all” instead of being tailored to accommodate people with varying degrees of cognitive impairment and those with diverse races/ethnicities. Thus, the aim of this survey was to determine whether the types of assistance needed most, and the technology used by those with cognitive impairment differed by race (White/non-Hispanics, Black or African Americans, and Hispanic/Latinos or Puerto Ricans) and severity of dementia (mild, moderate, severe). Research Design and Methods: One hundred and eighty informal caregivers of people with different levels of severity of cognitive impairment and several different races/ethnicities filled out an online survey regarding assistance needed and technologies used. Results: The results show that racial minorities considered the needs for assistance with Basic Activities of Daily Living as more important compared to White/non-Hispanics with mild dementia. Furthermore, Hispanic/Latinos or Puerto Ricans and White/non-Hispanics with severe dementia were shown to use technology that is designed to help with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living more than those with moderate dementia. Lastly, during COVID-19, devices to assist with walking, preparing meals and personal hygiene have been used significantly more by White/non-Hispanics with severe dementia compared to Hispanic/Latinos or Puerto Ricans. Conclusion: The results point to the need to design for those with severe dementia, regardless of race, and should focus on addressing needs related to both Instrumental and Basic Activities of Daily Living.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • aging in place
  • Assistive technology
  • dementia
  • inclusive design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing


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